What are the elements of a successful mobile app?

As smartphone penetration continues to soar there is a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their customers using apps. But retailers need to make sure they consider what encourages shoppers to download a particular app, says Jamie Belnikoff, associate director at ICM.

“Its essential apps are free, particularly with our research showing less than a quarter of people (23%) paid for their last app,” he says.

But people don’t download apps just because they are free. ICM says the majority (59%) of consumers chose their last app on its expected usefulness, followed by ‘how much fun’ shoppers expected it to be.

ICM says there are four elements that are key to a successful app. Belnikoff explains that being fun is important for those most likely to download apps, which is the under 35s and parents with kids under five.

In addition, an app needs to be useful. Examples of this include enabling consumers to scan barcodes to add items to wish lists, helping them with planning for an event, targeting them with specific information and offers according to their location, allowing them to share information with friends and family, and also linking to in-store and online activities.

Plus, an app needs to be secure - security of personal information is a primary concern for most people. Finally, it needs to be easy to use.

Belnikoff says two apps stand out. “Boots’ free Christmas app successfully brought together online and offline worlds to help shoppers choose and purchase relevant gifts according to their budget,” he says.

He adds Mothercare’s app allows people to shop for items, and to scan barcodes of products in store to help them find a different size or colour.